England vs India 2nd ODI, CardiffJake Cooper | 12 Oct 2016
India take on England in the second ODI at Cardiff on Wednesday and will be desperate to salvage some pride following a disastrous Test series.
With the first game at Bristol having been washed out, MS Dhoni’s beleaguered side have had to field pointed questions regarding their motivation, dedication and even desire without being able to answer their critics on the field.
With former players lining up to berate India’s recent capitulation and question marks swirling around the role of coach Duncan Fletcher and captain Dhoni, the Indian side badly needs an empathic performance at Cardiff to relieve some of the pressure.
The World Cup is just over the horizon and both India and England will be looking for the confidence boost a series win would bring. Can India turn things around in Bristol?
Key players in the Indian line-up will also be looking for a return to form with Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan in particular looking to put in big performances following their nightmare run in the Test series.
With more freedom to express himself, coupled with the greater restrictions on the fielding side during Power Play overs, Kohli will hope his well-publicised tendency to nibble at balls wide outside off will not be his undoing again.
Suresh Raina returns to the side to bat in the middle order with Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav sharing the bulk of the bowling responsibility.
For England, a conservative squad selection has seen Ravi Bopara controversially left out. The England side will be captained by Alastair Cook who is likely to partner Alex Hales at the top of the order.
Hales in particular will be charged with getting England off to a strong start with the likes of Jos Butler and Eoin Morgan responsible for quick runs down the order.
Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes will be competing for a place in the side with Ali’s form in the Test series, and ability to bowl tightly in the middle overs, likely to win him a spot.
With three further games scheduled, both sides will want to experiment with their line-ups before the World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand later next year.
Long suffering Indian fans will hope that a change of format will deliver a change in fortunes for MS Dhoni’s struggling side and with a dismal recent record of eight wins and thirteen losses there will be a handful of players on notice in Bristol.